Monday, August 21, 2017

From the readers: Shakespeare, speeding tickets, school days & more

Whoa, this is the 99th post labeled "From the Readers," which just goes to show how much of a shared community and experience this blog is. Keep the comments and memories and questions coming, so that I can do another 99 of these...

A story in every piece of paper: Frequent commenter "Mark Felt" shared the following, which I appreciate greatly:

"Writing is about culture and should be about everything. That's what makes it what it is."
Irvine Welsh
(Scottish novelist, c. 1958 to the present)

It's about time one of your readers commented on your debut post.

Chris adds: Thanks! There is, by the way, a staplebound book by E. Haldeman-Julius in that photo from Post #1. And it's still on my list of future posts. We'll see if it ends up sharing the same fate as the Seth Seiders/"Pivot Man"/Al Capone post that I teased but never delivered on years ago.

Judy, a black cat and a ghost book: Anna in Spain writes: "Yeah that book cover is totally fictitious. No publisher, no colophon, no author – no nothing."

"Jim and Judy," a 1939 grade-school textbook with a York connection: Anonymous writes: "Was my first reader in Sydney, Australia. Loved this book. Am sad I gave it away when had to move family home. That was a big mistake!"

"The play's the thing / Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king": Joan writes: "I love this post — and I'm glad to know that Sarah's great-grandmom was just as into theater as she is!!"

And Wendy of the terrific website Roadside Wonders, adds: "Go Sarah! Oh, you made me want to watch the movie version of Much Ado About Nothing again. Emma Thompson was fantastic in it."

I second Wendy's assessment of Emma Thompson's performance — in that movie and everything else, for that matter. Spurred by discussion of the Much Ado About Nothing cast, Wendy and I then went off on an unrelated discussion of terrible date movies, and determined that A Walk in the Clouds and Before and After were, indeed, two of the worst date movies of the 1990s.

Our family's funniest member: With regard to the note that my uncle typed up, he believes it might be from 1958, when his grandmother, Greta Chandler Adams, went to Brussels for the World's Fair. In that busy traveling year, she also took a cruise to Bermuda. So those are two possibilities.

Possibly my dream house, but I need to venture inside for myself: Tom from Garage Sale Finds and I had this fun back-and-forth:
  • Tom: A walled-up clock, eh? Is that a nod to John Bellairs?
  • Me: Absolutely, Tom! There's a hand of glory in that story, too.
  • Tom: I'd forgotten that. Coincidentally enough, I discovered the John Bellairs books at a garage sale years ago. I'd never read them until then. I thought they were great books and have always wondered why they weren't better known.
  • Me: Before I read the books, I was introduced to the story by the 1979 TV adaptation starring Severn Darden and narrated by Vincent Price. It was suitably creepy and memorable for 8-year-old me.
  • Tom: I've seen the TV adaption, but it was in recent years after reading the books, which is odd because I always rarely missed those kind of shows when I was a kid.
  • Me: I'm not really in a hurry to watch it as an adult. It cast a spell as a kid that I'm not sure I want broken by my adult eyes.

Putting a basket on your head is as good a plan as any these days: Mark Felt writes: "Mode is a feminine noun in French, and thus 'The Latest Fashion' should have been translated as La [not Le] Dernière Mode. Meanwhile, gotta love the now-obsolete diphthong in 'Diarrhœa.' The individual who 'presented' this card, Stephen B. Mann of West Galway, Fulton County, New York, was born May 15, 1852 and died January 16, 1883. Thus, the date of this card is likely not later than 1883. Indeed, the Museum of the City of New York puts the card in the 1860-1900 time frame. Stephen B. Mann owned a store (possibly a dry goods store with a pharmacy) in West Galway. Near the end of his life, he was also a Director of the Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad (date of charter, September 23, 1879)."

That time in 1914 when my great-grandmother got a speeding ticket: Mark Felt writes: "Great-Great-Grandfather Lilburn would have been especially peeved considering his litigious pursuit of miscreants and scofflaws galore. By the way, on August 21 of this year, Great-Grandmother Greta would have been 45,000 days old."

Tom from Garage Sale Finds adds: "I'll bet she was doing at least 15 mph. Hellion."

It's (it is) important to proof every aspect of your book: I knew it was courting danger to write a post criticizing the grammar errors of others. Mark Felt writes: "Where do you stand on the four-dot ellipsis? Many sources state that an ellipsis should only be used in a quotation where some text has been omitted for conciseness without sacrificing context; yet even putting aside the requirement that it be used in quotations only, shouldn't you have used four dots ('on the spine....') instead of three, since the sentence had come to an end?

"Apostrophes aren't the only grammatical pain in the....


Chris replies: Touché. I will fully admit to being extremely inconsistent on the ellipsis. I toss those dots around like candy. It will probably cost me my shot at the Ephemera Blogging Hall of Fame ..... and rightfully so.

Old booklet for Harrisburg's Capital Roller Rink: Wendy of Roadside Wonders, writes: "Can you imagine 1,300 people at at skating rink now?? Great find!"

Scholastic book cover: "Mrs. Coverlet's Magicians": Wendy of Roadside Wonders, writes: "I don't know how many times per year we got the 'Scholastic' catalogs (the little newsprint that you could order books from) but it always felt like Christmas. Books were the one thing that I didn't have to beg my parents to buy."

Mystery real photo postcard: Well-dressed girl and chair: Commenting on Facebook, Wendy writes: "Stylin' and high-profiling with the rag curls," and Cindy adds: "Love that dress, very sharp."

Very authentic Star Trek postcard for Annika in Sweden: The Postcrossing postcard successfully arrived in Sweden! Annika writes: "Thanks for the lovely card, I love it :-). it just take 8 days for it to arrive, we are lucky this time."

DC Comics in 1973: "You will receive 15 consecutive issues for $3.00!": Mark Felt writes: "Item #9 is Shazam, which restarted publication in 1973, at the time this advertisement was published. Why bother paying 20¢ (or $1.10 or $3.99) when today you can read the first reissued edition here."

Vintage book cover: "A Cruise in the Sky": Mark Felt writes: "The recipient of this book, Lee Mather Brosius, was born in 1908, and thus was ten years old at the time this gift was given to him. Despondent due to poor health, Brosius committed suicide in August of 1951. He had been a resident of Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, and had been an attendant at the Danville State Hospital for nearly a quarter century. His spirit lives on via ephemera, ironically intended to last for 'just a day.'"

RIP, Lee. I'll do my best to get your book to a great new owner.

Happy 131st birthday,
Ruth Manning-Sanders

Today is the 131st anniversary of the birthday of folk and fairy tale author Ruth Manning-Sanders. She was born on August 21, 1886. (Or, at least, that's the year I continue to go by. Some sources cite 1888 as her birth year.)

Here are the previous Papergreat birthday posts for Manning-Sanders:

And, if you're curious, there are now 50 posts, in total, related to Manning-Sanders' life and works on this blog (about 2% of all posts). Just click on the Ruth Manning-Sanders label here or at the bottom of this post to start reading all of them.

For a modest celebration of her birthday today, I'm featuring this old library circulation card and circulation card pocket from A Book of Mermaids, when a copy of that beloved Manning-Sanders book was part of the Contra Costa County Library system in California.

The card pocket features the "Book Selection Policy" at Contra Costa:
"It is the library's responsibility to provide material which will enable the citizen to form his own opinions. Therefore, the library provides books representing varying points of view."
It seems to me kind of a shame that the library had to explain itself in that way, but I guess they had to cover their bases.

A Book of Mermaids was published in 1967. It looks like the copy associated with this card entered the library system, at the Concord branch, in December 1968.

The card in this pocket might not have been the circulation card, per se. It looks like it might have been an administrative card used, perhaps, to record the status of the book. One thought I have is that SRV might stand for San Ramon Valley High School, which is within the Contra Costa County Library circulation area. Was the book loaned to a school library in the 1970s? If any longtime librarians can provide some insight, I'd be grateful.

The final notation, in red, on this card states: "Danville 9/23/88." Danville is one of the branches within the Contra Costa County Library system. Interestingly, that final date in red ink is less than three weeks before Manning-Sanders died, on October 12, 1988.

Here's another old-school Manning-Sanders library card, if you're interested.

This specific book, by the way, is still circulating. I put it into a Little Free Library earlier this summer, to keep spreading her stories to new generations.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mom on Linden Hall's 1964 JV field hockey team

Continuing with the theme of relatives on school sports teams, here, as promised, is the 1964 team photo for Linden Hall's junior varsity field hockey squad.1 Mom was a member of this squad, though I don't recall her ever sharing much about this particular experience at the Lititz, Pennsylvania, boarding school. She's the third from the right, among the standing girls.

Helpfully, the names of everyone on the team have been written on the back of this 53-year-old photograph. So here they are:

Standing, from left:
  • Jayne Richman
  • Bonnie Ginsburg
  • Sue Mullen
  • Mindy Jansen
  • Nancy Chase
  • Randy Gaines
  • Ginger Martin
  • Cheryll Mitchell
  • Sandy Martin
  • Mary Ingham
  • Dee Crane
  • Miggy Markle

In front, from left:
  • Kittie King
  • Nan Todd

Those 1964 girls field hockey players might have been happy to learn that women's field hockey became an official Olympic sport in 1980. And they might have been shocked if you told them that, one day, the United States national team would have its practice facilities and offices about 10 miles southwest of Linden Hall, in Manheim.

1. Previous posts on this theme:
Pretty soon, I'll have to dust off one of the photos of me with the Strath Haven High School tennis team in the late 1980s.

Friday, August 18, 2017

LibrarianShipwreck and the final word on statues and history

The LibrarianShipwreck Twitter account (@libshipwreck) is one of the arms of the LibrarianShipwreck website, which describes itself as follows:
At its founding, LibrarianShipwreck was intended “as a resource, soapbox, forum, and gutter for those interested in the future of librarianship. Amongst our interests are libraries, archives, activism, radical librarianship, history, technology, cats, sweater vests, and other fascinating things. We hope to rile you up.”

Since then (as the site’s actual content makes obvious) the main topics of the site have become focused primarily on technology, critical theory, and impending doom. This may or may not be a result of the fact that one of the main authors on the site may or may not be pursuing a PhD in the history of technology.

You may or may not like what you find written here.
In the wake of the national events and conversation of the past week, the LibrarianShipwreck Twitter account posted a series of sarcastic, edgy — and, frankly, perfect — tweets in response to the claim, by some, including the President of the United States, that statues, no matter the subject, have a crucial educational value.

Here is the first response tweet from LibrarianShipwreck, followed by the entire "Twitter Essay" compiled and saved for posterity. (It's not going to be easy to find the good stuff when the Library of Congress is literally saving everything.)

As a historian the hardest part of my job is that I am constantly building statues, as statues are the only way people learn about history.

Little known fact, but most of what you learn when you pursue a PhD in history is actually just how to build and install statues.

Just the other day I was discussing dissertation ideas with my advisor and she said "pick a different topic, there isn't a statue of this."

The phrase "pre-history" derives from a German word meaning "periods of history that didn't leave statues behind so who knows what happened"

Last year I did a ton of archival research only to have a conference reject my paper for: "failure to cite a statue."

Harsh but fair!

How do we know that Don Quixote & Rocky are real historic figures, and not fictional characters?
Easy: because there are statues of them!

How do historians know that F. Kafka's father was a terrifying headless monster & that Franz rode on his shoulders?
Because of the statue!

There are some who ask "which came first: the history or the statue?"
But those people are philosophers and you should probably ignore them.

Some argue that you can learn about history from books & other non-statue materials. But who has ever heard of learning from a book? No one!

If a statue comes down it becomes impossible to know what happened in the past. No historian will dare make a claim without statue evidence.

Don't we all know the famed adage: "if you want to be remembered, do something important - but also build a statue of it"? We do!

Historians have been calling for a return to "statue based" education for years, but skills like "looking at statues" have been devalued.

In conclusion: taking down statues permanently alters the space-time continuum (unless you build a statue of the other statue coming down).

How do historians know that F. Kafka's father was a terrifying headless monster & that Franz rode on his shoulders?
Because of the statue!

Partial mystery photo: Three women in Atlantic City, New Jersey

This old family photograph is the same size and thickness as a real photo postcard, and I suspect that's what it is. But there is no printing or stamp box or publisher's mark on the back of the card.

The writing on the back was done by a relative. It states: "Mary Casey Chandler in middle in Atlantic City."

So, we know one of the three women. Mary Casey Chandler (1872-1929), an Alabama native, was the second wife of my great-great-grandfather, Lilburn Chandler (1858-1948). The would have been married sometime after December 1913, when Helen Gregg Simmons Chandler, Lilburn's first wife and the mother of their three children, died.

The three women are sitting in an Atlantic City Boardwalk wicker rolling chair. You can see photos of similar ones here and here.

And, for important context, you might want to check out the Tradition of Excellence blog post titled "African-American workers were key to Atlantic City’s success, new book argues" and the photo below, which accompanies it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Three outfits from the early 1970s that I wish I could wear this Fall

I was so much more fashionable in the early 1970s. Think of how much of a show-stopper I'd be if I had grown-up versions of these amazing outfits.

Also, I want to ride that tricycle to work every day.

Our family's funniest member

My Uncle Charles is probably the funniest member of my extended family. It's from him that I first learned of Fawlty Towers many years ago, so that's probably sufficient proof right there of his excellent comedic taste.1

As I go through all the family papers, there's a lot of stuff that just makes my eyes glaze over. But there are some funny bits, too. Like this typed note from my uncle. There's no date, but it's probably circa 1958-1962. The "Grandma" in this instance would be Greta Chandler Adams, who I've written a few posts about.2

To the best of my knowledge, Greta's boat did not sink.

1. When it comes specifically to puns, however, my dad will always be No. 1.
2. More about world traveler and sports standout Greta Chandler Adams:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"The play's the thing / Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king"

This old photograph shows my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham, with her fellow actors in the 1942 cast of Heidi at the Players Club in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. The Players Club of Swarthmore was founded in November 1911 and has a storied history; it is still going strong today, and it is currently advertising its summer children's theater production of Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical. Its 2017-18 season is set to include Chicago, The Little Mermaid and Little Shop of Horrors, among other productions.

A funny thing about this photo, other than the live goat, is that I couldn't immediately identify my grandmother. She would have been about 23 years old at the time. After some thorough study and process of elimination, I am now 99.5% sure I have spotted her. She's the lady on the far left, fairly close to the goat, in the cropped segment of the photo shown below.

I don't know which character from Heidi that would have been. It looks like she was playing someone a bit older than she actually was. Beembom had range!

The bigger photograph at the top of the post is more enjoyable if you click on it, zoom in and check out all the faces and costumes of 75 years ago.

One of the reasons I wanted to share this photo is because it's been quite the summer of theater for the family.

Sarah (right) made her Shakespearean stage debut by playing, in excellent fashion, the role of Trinculo in a local summer-camp production of The Tempest. It's a bit of a comic-relief role, perfect for her and she was perfect in it.

The play was staged in a barn, and Trinculo has a long speech upon his first entrance, of which this is an excerpt:
I do now let loose
my opinion; hold it no longer: this is no fish,
but an islander, that hath lately suffered by a
Alas, the storm is come again! my best way is to
creep under his gaberdine; there is no other
shelter hereabouts: misery acquaints a man with
strange bed-fellows. I will here shroud till the
dregs of the storm be past.
At her first performance, almost precisely on cue, an actual thunderclap sounded above the barn at the point in the speech where [Thunder] is noted in the script. It was, to use a non-Shakespearean term, amazeballs.

Our Summer of Theater has also included attending local performances of Antigone and The Taming of the Shrew. For this autumn, to follow up on her role at Trinculo, Sarah is trying out for small roles in both Antony and Cleopatra and a stage adaptation of Frankenstein.

And, to keep up the momentum, I have also put together a list of Shakespeare or Shakespeare-inspired movies that I believe Sarah would enjoying watching. We're looking forward to these:

  • Hamlet (1996)
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
  • 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) [basically The Taming of the Shrew]
  • Forbidden Planet (1956) [inspired by The Tempest]
  • Ran (1985) [King Lear, set in medieval Japan]
  • West Side Story (1961) [a musical version of Romeo and Juliet]
What's your favorite Shakespeare movie? Share it in the comments.